Beware Pet Odors

Now an army of dogs, gnawing, stamping mud into linoleum. Now a fire-breathing dragon. Now hats and coats and cloaks, now the clock forcing my hand. I could set fires or ferry a bucket. Glass buttons on a violet dress or a burning armoire in a flooded house. To leave, as in suddenly. Or to tidy the mud room and set plates for supper. Someone speeds toward me in a dark blue car. Someone else paces in a room made of windows. Door number one or door number two? I'm the girl in heels who spins the wheel; I'm the contestant and America's watching. I'm in the mud room, dirty from wandering. The women who want me are always so clean.

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty books of poetry, most recently DARK HORSE (C&R Press, 2017). Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University's Kittredge Fund. Her work appears in The Gettysburg Review, New American Writing, The Iowa Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Quarterly and Grants Specialist at Black Ocean.

Carol Guess is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose. She lives in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood.